Following in the footsteps of the Clintons, the Obamas have struck gold in monetizing the presidency. From 2005-2016 the Obamas earned a total of $20.5 million, most of which ($15.6 million) were from books Barack authored before taking office, and the rest from his presidential salary and investment income.
Quickly after leaving office Obama joined the speaking circuit, which had earned the Clintons before him $153 million. The year Obama left office he became one of the ten highest paid public speakers in America, bringing in a cool $1.2 million from three Wall Street Speeches. Michelle began commanding fees of $225k per speech.
Then came the $65 million deal with Penguin Random House for two standalone books from the duo. Since that $65 million represents a cash advance, it’s the least the two will make from their books.
Adding even more to their cash pile, the two scored a deal with Netflix estimated to be worth $50 million last year.
They’ve upgraded their lifestyles quite a bit with the cash in hand. In 2017 they purchased an 8,200 square foot mansion in Washington D.C. for $8.1 million – the second most expensive home in the neighborhood after Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. This year the two are shelling out $14.8 million for a 7000 square foot, 29 acre beach side property in Martha’s Vineyard (I guess they’re not too concerned about rising sea levels).
It took the Clintons nearly two decades to earn $153 million from the presidency. The Obama’s booked over $115 million in two years, putting them on track to profit more from the presidency than any other. And while they’re making money hand over fist, the taxpayer is still subsidizing them more than any other former president.
Last year the Obamas cost the U.S. taxpayer $1,153,000 according to the Congressional Research Service, more than George H.W. Bush ($942k) and Jimmy Carter ($456k). The biggest expense for former presidents is office space. Obama’s 8,198 square foot office in Washington D.C. cost taxpayers $536k last year, the most of any former President. Clinton’s cots $518,000 (with 8,300 square feet), and Carters costs $518k. W. and H.W.’s offices cost $497k and $286k respectively, while Carters costs only $115k.
Obama also has the fattest pension of any former president at $236k, slightly higher than Clinton ($231k) and the younger Bush (225k).
This year the Obamas will cost the taxpayer $1,176,000, with the following breakdown of costs (note that all figures are in thousands). Secret Service costs are not included in any calculations, because that information is classified (but obviously add to the overall cost).
If there was a family worth over $100 million were costing the taxpayer over $1 million a year in benefits, don’t you think President Obama would’ve lambasted them, and used him as yet another example of why we need to tax the rich?
The Obama brand could conceivably be worth billions if they keep up this momentum, and that begs the question, why are we the taxpayer subsidizing the Obama family (or any former millionaire president), when Barack can earn that money himself through fewer than three hours of Wall Street speeches every year?